Using the right Project Management Style
Different projects call for different project management styles. Team leaders subconsciously default to a management style that they are most familiar with. Because of this, many teams face challenges including:
- Overlooking ideas. Autocratic decisions can leave ideas unexplored.
- Dissatisfied employees. Successful projects are completed by happy teams. Top-down decision making can leave employees disconnected.
- Indecisiveness. Quick decisions solve emergencies. Slower management styles cause delay.
Management Styles are tools in your toolbox. You have choices, and that is important. You need to use the right tool for the job; not just your favorite.
What is Autocratic Management?
Autocratic management is a top-down management style. The team leader makes all decisions with little to no consultation with the team. Team members follow a strict hierarchy, policies, and guidelines. Motivation comes from fear of discipline.
This management style prioritizes efficiency, often at the expensive of effectiveness. Popularized by Fredrick Taylor in the early 20th Century, Autocratic Management came to define the “Titan” of industry and set the status quo by mid-century.
The Telegraph, double entry bookkeeping, and the assembly line helped make autocratic management styles the default in businesses and business school by mid-century. Telegrams allowed managers to give orders to far off branches. In addition to telegrams double entry bookkeeping provided accurate records of what exactly happened.
This management style relies on the team leader’s ability to make decisions. Inexperienced and misguided leaders can quickly make compounding mistakes.
Additionally, autocratic management does not take advantage of team member’s brainpower. There is no participation in the decision process. New ideas, thoughts, and feedback are not acknowledged, causing limited employee buy-in.
The rise of flatter organizations in the 21st century has led to autocratic management losing popularity. Work has turned to creativity and complexity as repetitive jobs become automated. Modern project management practices call for intense sprint planning and recurrent feedback loops.
When to use
Emergency and highly structured projects require a management style that is quick and decisive. Use autocratic management when you are experienced with the situation and decisions need to made without hesitation.
Defined, repetitive factory jobs work well with autocratic management. Employees have a specialized job that is structured by expectations and standards. When an emergency arises, the team leader makes a decisive decision without consultation.
Consultative management is similar to autocratic management. Both management styles rely on a top-down management approach. The team leader makes decisions and guidelines are expected to be followed.
However, a feedback loop is encouraged in consultative management. Employees are asked for their opinions on decisions. The team leader uses employee ideas and feedback to guide his decision. Ultimately, team members do not have a direct say on the decision.
Notably consultative management improves on autocratic management. Including team members in decisions helps build a feedback loop. This helps team leaders make better decisions. Team members will feel understood and know they will impact the decision.
The team leader’s experience with the situation remains important. The leader must understand when he has enough feedback to make the decision. Taking too long disregards the decisiveness of this management style.
Ultimately team members do not have a vote on the decisions. Team members who want a direct say may feel ignored and distance themselves from the project.
When to use it
Consultative management works well with projects that have defined roles with minimal overlap. Teams that appreciate being involved but do not want to make the final decision fit well. This style also retains the ability to make quick decisions in emergency situations.
This is the new standard for labor-intensive and repetitive jobs. Employee buy-in and happiness greatly increase when using this style. Team members appreciate being consulted and still have clear guidelines and expectations to meet. It provides balance when a top-down management style is needed.
Persuasive Management is still a top-down management style. The team leader makes the decision but works to build consensus within the team. Persuasive management helps spread creative vision.
The process of persuading can take considerable effort and time. However, with a strong feedback loop, team member buy-in is high. This style helps coordinate multi-team projects.
Persuasive management requires a leader who has experience and can make compelling arguments. Unconvincing reasoning is a waste of time. Additionally, decisions can take considerable time since persuading the team can take time and effort. Because of this, switching to a different management style is necessary for emergency situations.
When to use it
Persuasive management is important for multi-faceted projects with multiple teams. Keeping multiple teams coordinated is difficult. Each team can develop their own idea of the goal of the project. This can quickly lead to teams choosing different paths that do not align. Taking the time to share the vision and direction of the project helps keep the team on the same page.
Democratic management is one of the most classic management styles. This management style distributes decision making power by giving every team member a vote. In addition, the team shares their opinions and participates in discussions. When it is time to decide, team members vote to decide on the course of action.
In contrast to autocratic management, democratic management provides high team buy-in thanks to the distribution of decision making. However, debating large decisions can quickly become a lengthy process.
Building consensus takes time and requires a large number of meetings. Many team leaders choose to switch to top-down management styles in situations where quick decisions are good.
When to use it
Democratic management is great for teams tackling difficult problems. This management style helps create creative solutions by encouraging team members to submit their ideas and thoughts. This is the best way to use the brainpower of your team. For example, brainstorming sessions are a perfect example of democratic management.
Chaotic management applies a purely flat organization to decision making. There is no structure or processes to be followed. Team members make their own decisions, and it is very little to no group consensus.
Flat organizations started to make a comeback in the early 2000’s. The philosophy of everyone having the same amount of power and lack of structure allows for creativity and gets rid of bureaucratic waste. However, in reality, most “flat” organizations retain a reporting structure.
Because of the lack of structure things can quickly become disorganized and unaligned. Decisions are made on an individual basis and therefore will most likely not align with each other. Solve issues that are complex and require one path by using other management styles.
When to use it
Using Chaotic management sparingly during projects. This style can work when you have an experienced team who is familiar with how to complete requirements. It allows the maximum amount of freedom to complete work. However, using this for long periods of time can lead to scope creep and losing sight of the end goals of the project.
In Laissez-faire management, the team leader serves as a mentor and a guide. The leader looks to inspire and motivate the team towards making the correct decisions. Team members make all of the decisions, and only consult the team leader for guidance.
This management style is a direct counter to overmanagement. It is best to give team members freedom when they are within their comfort zone.
Not all leaders are capable of mentoring a team to choose correct decisions. The team leader must build respect and credibility. Team members can also be lead in opposite directions if the mentorship is not consistent between members.
Debates can meander without one leader making final decisions. This management style does not fit well with emergency situations.
When to use it
Laissez-faire is incredibly effective for teams working to solve problems within their comfort zone. Make sure to not over-manage team members who are capable of solving the problem. Laissez-faire management gives the team freedom to execute while still providing both guidance and support.
Using Bric with Project Management Styles
Switching between project management styles can be difficult. We know because our founders ran agencies, software development teams, and consultancies. Because of this, they created Bric to build the software they wish they had.
Understanding your project progress and the complexity of the project is important. Bric’s project plans and at-a-click report gives you the information you need to decide what project management style to use. Additionally, Bric makes it easy to manage people working multiple roles in multiple projects.
Bric is only USD $7 per team member per month, and can help you follow these project management steps to delivering successful projects.
Follow these Project Management Steps for Successful Projects
This project management guide is for project managers, team members, and clients. It will help everyone on your team understand the project management steps, and what comes next. It will ensure that everyone follows the same path to finish the project on time and on budget.
We will cover project management steps from start to finish:
- Define the Project Scope. Learn why your client hired you, and work with them to determine a potential solution.
- Calculate Your Capacity. Ensure that you have the right team for the project, and that they have the time to work on the project.
- Execute the Project. Compare progress to the original plan to identify potential issues early and make changes as needed.
- Close the Project. Confirm with your client that the deliverables fulfill the scope of the project, and send the final invoice. Now the project team is available to work on other projects.
- Discuss and Learn. Working with your team to learn from the completed project, and implement improvements for the next project.
Project management steps are integrated — each step depending on the others. For example, quality craftsmanship doesn’t matter if you solve the wrong problem, or your client doesn’t understand the solution. A great project manager sees the entire process start to finish; vigilantly and patiently completes each step before moving to the next.
1. Define the Project Scope.
Each project should start by you working with your client to define the project scope.
Start by understanding why they are hiring you — be careful to not propose a solution to quickly. Reassure your client that this is a challenging assignment. They have come to you, because their team couldn’t solve it. In fact, writing a winning proposal is typically less about your solution, and more about proving that you understand their problems and goals.
Next determine what will be required to solve their problem — the deliverables for the project. This will help you define the requirements of the project: the bare minimum features or results that need to be met to fulfill the contract.
Watch out for the project planning fallacy.
Problem: The project planning fallacy causes people underestimate how long it will take them to complete projects. Interestingly, this bias only affects predictions about your own tasks. People typically are pessimistic when estimating other people’s tasks.
Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky propose that people are optimistic about their own abilities because they have an unconscious need to impress people. This causes them to predict that a project will take less time and less money because that’s what the client wants.
Solution: Save timesheets from past projects and group them by project types; use the average to create new estimates for similar projects. Also, have your team review your proposal. The typically care less about impressing the client, and can provide a more realistic timeline.
2. Calculate Your Capacity for the Project.
Start by determining what roles are required, and who can fill them. Then collaborate with your project team to break each deliverable into tasks, and estimate the amount of time required to complete each task.
Break apart any task that will take longer than 6 hours, and group tasks together that take less than an hour. Your goal is to outline the project deliverables, without creating too much minutia.
Then assign the tasks to the appropriate team members. Be careful to take into account other projects your team members may be working on.
Now you can determine if you have capacity for the project. Each person should have a target utilization rate, and your goal is to get each person as close to their target utilization as possible without over scheduling them.
Know when to turn down less profitable projects.
Problem: Agreeing to projects to keep your team busy, then not having capacity to close more profitable projects. Most likely you will have to turn down the more profitable project, or give in and overbook your team to try to complete both projects.
Solution: First, set your billable rate so that your team doesn’t have to be 100% booked to make a profit. Then establish a baseline for new projects. Set the baseline so that you can be content with any project that meet that standard. This will make it easier to turn down less profitable work, as well as work that would over schedule your team.
3. Monitor Progress During Execution.
Once your project is active, you need to monitor progress and compare it to the original project plan, and make adjustments as needed.
Timesheets are a major key in this project management step. Recording time provides data that helps you understand your project’s progress. Your team’s timesheets will show you when tasks are taking longer than expected, who has availability to help and show the project’s progress.
Projects never perfectly follow the plan. It is okay to make changes to your project plan. However, make sure that you are not changing core concepts. Adding additional unneeded requirements can cause your project to go off-track. This scope creep can lead to project failure.
Communicate Why Your Team Needs to Track Time.
Problem: Tracking time requires effort, and can be easy to ignore. However, data from timesheets is essential for monitoring progress, and identifying issues early.
Solution: Communicate how timesheets are being used, and how important they are important for project management — read more.
4. Wrap-up and Close the Project.
Just because you think the work is done, doesn’t mean the project is finished. Your client has to agree. You want to leave them impressed and satisfied with their investment, and not scratching their heads wondering, “Is this it?”.
It makes a big difference how you present your deliverables. We recommend walking clients through from start to finish: the problem you solved, your process, and how the final deliverables solved the original problem. If you did great work, they won’t be able to argue that the deliverables don’t fulfill the project scope.
Note: if the deliverables are not tangible: provide clients with a physical report or slide deck that they can hold. This will help them feel like they really “got” something for their investment.
Once you have agreement that the project is complete, you can send the final invoice. Be ready to provide details if your client has any questions — download invoice templates and designs.
Communicate with stakeholders.
Problem: It can be difficult to keep project’s stakeholders informed. Leaving stakeholders without insight leads to frustration and mistrust. Without trust the feedback loop for project requirements disappears. This can gravely impact the effectiveness of your project.
Solution: Provide updates every few weeks. Keep a clear line of communication, and make sure they understand that their feedback is important to the progress of the project.
5. Finally, Discuss and Learn.
Project managers often overlook this step. Your timesheets and completed project are full of data and lessons. Hold a post-project analysis meeting with your team to reveal issues and gain feedback.
Here are a few examples of questions to ask yourself and your team:
- Was the schedule realistic for the deliverables?
- What was the single most frustrating part of the project?
- Were you given the adequate resources to achieve those goals?
Ask your client or stakeholder what improvements can be made. Honest feedback is the key to improving, and getting ready for the next project.
Save your timesheets, and use them to bid on new projects.
Problem: Repurposing proposal from past projects to bid on new projects. This leads to your team repeating the same mistakes over and over.
Solution: Save your timesheets, and use them to bid on new projects. This provides a much better starting point than old proposals because they contain the work it really took to complete the project. True, each project is unique, but working from timesheets is better than working from proposals.
Help! I need help following these project management steps.
Following these project management steps can get complicated fast — especially as you add people and projects. We know because our founders ran agencies, software development teams, and consultancies. They created Bric to build the software they wish they had.
Each feature of Bric makes it easier to follow these project management steps.
- Scoping Projects. Bric can recommend more accurate project plans using timesheet data from completed projects. This makes it easy to apply lessons from past projects.
- Calculating Capacity. Use Bric to collaborate with your team to assign roles and people, break the project into deliverables, and estimate how long projects will take. Plus, Bric will alert you when someone is scheduled on other projects, or over scheduled.
- Monitoring Progress. As you team completes work, Bric makes it easy to compare tracked time to your original estimate, and even your current plan. This makes it easy to spot potential issues early.
- Closing a Project. Bric makes it easy to answer your clients’s questions with a history of what was expected, and how much work was actually completed. In addition, you can export timesheets to prepare invoices.
- Discussing and Learning. Bric automatically provides you team with a history of the project, and financial reports make it easy to analyze projects by client, role, and person.
Bric is only USD $7 per team member per month, and can help you follow these project management steps to delivering successful projects.
How to Get Your Team Excited About Time Tracking
You have reached the point where time tracking not just for invoicing; it has become a source of data. Time tracking data can help plan and improve your team’s schedule and capacity.
Now you need to convince your team to track time accurately and consistently. You need your team to make time tracking a habit. Implementing time tracking for the first time? Download our free time tracking policy template.
Communicate why time tracking is important.
Time tracking goes beyond invoicing and payroll. Accurate timesheets can:
- Build trust with clients. Your people want challenging and interesting projects. These are the projects that will help launch their careers on a new trajectory. Trust is key to winning these prized projects.
- Help managers set realistic deadlines. Managers can use timesheets from previous projects to bid on similar new projects. Accurate timesheets can help managers avoid the making the same planning mistakes over and over.
- Improve capacity planning. Managers will know how time is being spent, and this can help avoid overscheduling some people while under scheduling others — learn more about capacity planning.
It can be helpful to use a problem/solution statement. For instance:
- We don’t know what our capacity is for new projects. Tracking time allows us more accurately plan our projects, and understand our true time capacity.
- We are having a hard time balancing workload and delegating tasks. Tracking time gives us the data to understand who is overworked, and who can help out.
- We are having a hard time scheduling. Tracking time allows you to understand how busy you are, and clearly communicate that to the leadership team.
It is key that your team understands time tracking will improve their workday. It is not just an administrative nuisance or an overbearing invasion of privacy, but a source of positive data.
Set time tracking reminders.
Setting reminders to record time is similar to setting an alarm clock. Identifying when you will track time is as important as setting the reminder. Common times to track time include:
- At the end of the workday. Doing all of your time at once will make it quick, but can lead to less accurate data.
- When switching between tasks. Bric features a stopwatch which makes it easy to record time. Stopping the timer and assigning the time allows you to accurately track time.
Reminders can be divided between physical and mental.
Physical reminders include notifications such as email reminders or in-application notifications. This type of reminder is useful for when you are recording time once a day. Many time tracking applications feature email reminders that can be set up by a manager. This is a quick and easy way to remind your team to fill out their timesheets. Calendar reminders are a good alternative if your application does not feature reminders.
Mental reminders work best when logging time multiple times a day. logging time when switching tasks is the most common mental reminder. The key is to build a subconscious habit and associate switching tasks with recording time — “Now that I finished this task, I need to record time”.
Read about creative time tracking ideas.
Combine timesheets with routines.
Intertwining your timesheets and routines makes it easier to communicate the value of tracking time. The data you are collecting is useful for a number of activities that your team is already doing, including:
- One-on-one meetings. Reviewing workload and comparing schedules with past timesheets makes sure that you are scheduling your team correctly.
- Stand-up meetings. Tasks and time already intertwine. Having frank conversations on the amount of time projects and tasks are taking creates a great feedback loop. This reveals your team’s capacity for new projects.
- Project wrap-ups. Review your estimated time vs actual tracked time. Identify what tasks took the most time, and how to better plan the next project. Read about task management in Bric.
Your team will be more energized as they see the results of reviewing time data. Using timesheets proactively will provide improved capacity management and more accurate scheduling.
Recognize and reward your team.
Making time tracking a habit requires effort. Recognizing your team members for tracking time ensures that they feel appreciated. One-on-one meetings and standup meetings are a great time to recognize milestones — or program timesheets to unlock the beer fridge.
Every team member is different and should be rewarded in their own unique way. One person may crave public recognition while another will be more appreciative of a small but meaningful gift. It is up to you as their manager to decide what is best.
Make sure to continually reiterate the benefits of recording time. Long-term benefits, such as increased employee utilization, may take longer to see. Focus initially on the short-term gains such as delegation of tasks and more accurate project planning.
Use timesheet analysis to improve processes.
Time tracking is your key to continually reflect on the effectiveness of your project and capacity management process. Improving the process of time tracking also requires review and improvements.
Analyzing your timesheets will allow you to improve your feedback loop. The key is to use your timesheets to keep an open dialogue with your team. Continually ask you and your team questions, such as:
- How accurate and consistent was our time tracking? How can we improve our timesheets?
- What were our projects estimated vs actual time? What tasks ended up taking longer?
- How much excess capacity did we have? How many new projects and tasks can we support?
Additionally, having a tool that does the analysis for you will help take your project planning to the next level. Bric uses analytics to improve project plans automatically. Once a project is completed Bric will provide suggestions based on the timesheets for that project — Try Bric Free for 30 Days
In conclusion, time tracking is just like any other habit. It takes an effort to build the habit and you may be inconsistent at first. However, the data you collect will help your team make better decisions, improve scheduling, and lead to better projects.
Bric Case Study with Contemporary Analysis
Putting Data Science in the Spotlight
Data Science has emerged as a new way to improve business processes. Contemporary Analysis (CAN) helps companies embrace data science. Over the last 10 years, CAN has become the industry leader in providing Data Science consulting and services.
“Essentially we help companies implement predictive analytics, machine learning, and data science into their organizations by helping them with the initial phase of development — getting it off the ground”, explains Nate Watson, CEO of Contemporary Analysis.
While adopting Data Science is increasingly common, it can be difficult for companies to plan projects that have a real ROI. Using Bric helps CAN plan for success; the result are projects with real ROI.
Managing for Sustainability — Talent, Costs and Education.
CAN successfully implements data science into an organization by:
- Using Bric to assign the right team for the project.
- Using Bric to balance cost and results.
- Developing people through education.
Putting the right team on the right project is CAN’s largest advantage. Their philosophy on hiring and retaining talent is simple. Watson explains that their focus is to “Hire the best people who not only want to solve problems but who aren’t dismayed when the solution becomes hard to find.”
CAN embraces the challenge of finding the correct talent. As with every new field, data science struggles to provide enough talent to fill the number of jobs across the ecosystem. When hiring, CAN strikes a balance between finding team members with experience and nurturing up and coming talent.
To help fill their projects with the right talent, CAN balances a team of salaried, hourly, and contracted team members. This provides their team flexibility to retain talent, while being able to scale to meet the needs of larger projects. However, managing so many types of employees can become complex without the right tool.
“Managing a staff of full-time employees who need to allocate out their time, part-time workers who need to track their time, and contractors who need to bill their time was a problem. Bric was the only solution we found that made sense for our company.” explains Watson.
CAN uses Bric to effectively manage their team. Bric’s analytics and reporting distinguishes between salaried and hourly costs. This allows project managers to have precise data for financial reporting and invoicing.
“Additionally, because of how Bric is set up, we didn’t need an additional project management tool.” explains Watson, “We manage and track time and expenses of a project quickly, easily, and from well-designed dashboards.”
Bric helps CAN Manage Complex Projects
Naturally, Contemporary Analysis’ projects are complex. In a recent project, multiple subcodes were managed underneath the main code. Each subcode had its own project team. Each team had their own time tracking, estimation, and bonus system for early completion and staying under budget.
Coordinating so many teams can be difficult without the proper tools. This was additionally complicated when multiple sub-projects were being run at the same time. As project complexity increases, so does communication and organizational complexity.
“With Bric, we track time, budget, cost, remainders, and manage the project effectively even as some subcodes exceed expectations, and some fell behind.” explains Watson, “In the end, Bric provided a detailed report we provided to the client which gave them the necessary insight to give bonuses where bonuses were due.”
Using Bric’s intuitive time tracking, CAN’s project teams have the data they need to organize multiple teams across multiple projects. Plus Bric’s reporting abilities help CAN meet the communication needs of complex projects.
The Future of Data Science
Contemporary Analysis continues to drive the adoption of data science across industries. These organizations see profound returns and a new way of thinking. This is thanks to CAN’s ability to educate, sustain, and manage unique projects with Bric.
Bric Case Study — 11:FS Brings Innovation to Banking
On a Mission to Change Banking
Compared to other industries, banks struggle to adopt new technology and adapt to a changing landscape. They are mired in legacy technology, rife with inefficiency and hampered by regulations. Every year Financial Services Organizations spend billions to inch themselves forwards while more agile, lean “fintech” companies are appearing that arguably provide better services with a fraction of the costs.
11:FS is on a mission to change this dynamic by helping existing financial services organizations build and launch new, truly digital, financial technology propositions. Recognized as a global Fintech leader, 11:FS distinguishes itself by using startup approaches. They achieve this by forming small teams of super experienced, super talented individuals, that are empowered with professional services software to get stuff done in a matter of weeks; not years.
“We don’t work like a traditional consultancy” explains Toby Sexton, Head of Delivery “We can talk strategy and systems integration like management consultants. But we are also a research agency, a media network, tech specialists and UX and design experts. We are a special forces team that brings together a full range of skills and experience needed to be able to build and launch cost effective, truly digital propositions at pace.”
11:FS’s love for the financial world shows in their high quality podcasts and vlogs — check out their podcasts Blockchain Insider and Fintech Insider. They have even created their own technology news community called Fintech Insider News.
11:FS has found success by building a great team, defining success early on and being tight on delivery
11:FS has established a team of experienced and talented individuals who have co-founded UK challenger banks like Monzo, developed the technology platform at Nutmeg, transformed banks like Lloyds, and developed Blockchain applications at Barclays.
On each engagement they have a delivery manager that takes responsibility for navigation. They keep teams moving; avoiding obstacles, wrong turns, and mires. They get involved early defining success and what is to be delivered.
Planning and deliverables are supported by defining the amount of time that is required to complete them. In the past the team used multiple spreadsheets for their project planning — it was hard to maintain.
“Before we started using Bric we had a spreadsheet with about 7 different tabs just for project planning and estimation,” Toby explains “once someone completed it we had no single location where we could keep track of all our projects and had a limited idea of how much time individuals were spending on projects and activities.”
11:FS made the switch to Bric to combine their project planning & estimation, resource scheduling and time tracking into one simple and intuitive application. Now with their data in one place, they can identify scheduling issues, manage their project mix, and know where time is being spent. Plus, they don’t have to organize spreadsheets, or worry that a calculation is corrupted.
Employees with “Manager” access in Bric are responsible for planning and managing new projects in Bric. Projects are started in Bric when the appropriate stage for a deal in their customer relationship manager is met.
Prior to adopting a professional services software, managers had no way to understand the amount of time and effort spent on projects. Without this vital data, it is extremely hard to improve the project planning process. 11:FS uses Bric’s time tracking to gain this data and analyze it.
“A word for word comment I got from one of our team was “It was surprisingly painless compared to every other timesheet system I’ve had to use.’ ” Sexton says. By adopting a simple time tracking application, new data is available for both billing purposes and project reporting.
Finding the right professional services software
After having enough of using the unwieldy spreadsheets to manage their projects and capture the data they needed they began looking for a professional services software that would help improve their planning process. Finding a tool with project planning & estimation, resource scheduling and time tracking in one application proved to be more difficult than expected.
After signing up for a free trial with Bric, they found the application had everything they needed. Bric’s analytics are helping 11:FS build better projects, maximize billable utilization, and manage projects and clients.
In fact, during a recent project a client requested numerous changes and new deliverable requests. As these requests built up, it became clear the the project would become off track, requiring more time and effort than originally planned.
“Using Bric we were able to continuously re-plan and give the client an idea of the additional effort and costs required to deliver what was required.” explains Sexton, “It helps us to be honest and upfront with clients about any additional costs over and above what was originally agreed and Bric gives the supporting information to be able to do this effectively.”
Additionally, 11:FS takes advantage of Bric’s built in analytics. With the accurate time tracked from their projects, Bric builds project templates based on data collected from past projects. These project templates provide an optimized estimate based on the project type.
On top of Bric’s analytics, 11:FS actively uses Bric’s at-a-click reporting. The financial and utilization reports allows them to keep track of the billable utilization and margins. By having employees track time, they are able to have instant financial reporting for their projects. 11:FS also focuses on keeping their utilization rate high by constantly reviewing and re-planning projects.
Building the future
With experienced and empowered employees, a precise project planning process, and effective data analytics and analysis, 11:FS is transforming the banking and financial industries. Their work shows the amazing things that can be done when people with the right professional services software set themselves on a mission. We’re looking forward to what 11:FS will bring to the table next.
Download our Free Time Tracking Policy Template
We created this time tracking policy to help you build a great business. Feel free to take and make this policy your own under the Creative Commons License.Download Word Template Download PDF Template
Time Tracking Policy
This document outlines our time tracking policy. Time is our most important business metric. By following our time tracking policy, you are providing the company with important analytics that are used for:
- Cashflow Management. Timesheets determine how much and when we can invoice. This applies to every contract type: Time & Materials, Retainers, and Fixed Bid. We also use them to manage payroll — even if you are salaried.
- Project Planning. Timesheets from past projects are used to bid new projects. This helps us learn from previous projects, and create more accurate project plans. Timesheets also help us make strategic decisions about what types of projects to pursue.
- Resource Management. Timesheets help us get the right people on the right projects. Analytics from timesheets let us know who is busy, what is available for projects, and which types of projects people are best at.
In short, your timesheet helps us run a better company. Our time tracking policy covers the following:
- Important Definitions
- Who should track time
- What time to track
- How to record time
Time is tracked using Bric. Bric helps creative teams plan and track time. The following definitions are used across our time tracking policy and Bric.
“Active Projects” are projects that you are authorized to work as many hours as required to complete the project, unless your manager or client requests that you stop working on the project. Additional time can be authorized by the explicit request of your manager.
“Assigned Projects” are projects that you have been assigned a role, and are automatically added to your timesheet. While you can track time to unassigned projects, you will be added as a Misc role.
“Tracked time” is the time that is worked and authorized to be worked. Tracked time is recorded to the nearest minute.
“Planned hours” is time that managers assign people to complete a task.
“Workday” is defined as eight hours of planned time between 8:00am and 5:00m. However, you might be required to work alternative schedules based on planned hours.
“Workweek” covers 7 consecutive days starting on Saturday at 12:00am, and ending on Friday at 11:59pm. Alternative workweeks may be established as needed.
“Weekly Billable Hours” this is the number of hours per week you are expected to work on billable projects. This doesn’t include non-billable work such as administrative tasks, team meetings, and business development activities. Weekly Billable Hours are set by the partners and can vary from person-to-person.
“Overtime” is the time worked by nonexempt employees in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. Overtime must be approved in advance by the employee’s manager; if not, an employee is not authorized to work overtime. Overtime does not apply to exempt employees and contractors. Overtime should be recorded to the nearest minute.
Who Should Track Time.
Everyone is required to use Bric’s timesheet to track time worked on projects. This includes contractors, exempt employees, and non-exempt employees.
What time to track.
You need to track 100% of time worked on projects. This includes projects that are time & materials, fixed bid, commission based, and internal. Time is tracked to projects. Do not include miscellaneous time, administrative time, or brief conversations with coworkers. Your weekly billable hours is typically less than the total hours you work each week. This provides you a “budget” for non-project based time.
Your manager is responsible for creating and assigning projects. Once you have been assigned to a project you are authorized to track time to that project. Each project will have planned hours for each person assigned.
Contact your manager if you don’t know which project to assign time to, or if a project is missing.
Unassigned Projects. You can track time to unassigned projects by visiting your timesheet, and clicking “Add Project”. Select a project and it will be added to your timesheet, and you will be added as a Misc role.
Non-work time. This includes personal phone calls and errands should not be logged, and are not included in your workweek. You are free to work on personal tasks at the office, but you will need to plan to come in early or stay late to make up for the time spent on personal tasks.
Break time. Creative work isn’t transactional. From time to time you will need to take a short break to get food, use the bathroom, and even browser the Internet. Likely you are still thinking about the project you are working on. Count periods of 5 minutes or less are counted as time worked.
Remote Work. It is likely that your work responsibilities will require you to perform work away from the office or at home. This work should be counted as time worked, and should be recorded on your timesheet.
How to record time.
Access your timesheet by visiting, https://getbric.com. Login using your work email and password you created when setting up your account. You can reset your password as needed by visiting, https://getbric.com/users/password/new.
When possible track time as you work. Bric provides a stopwatch on in the navigation bar and on the timesheet. You can start the timer, and then log the time once you finish and are ready to switch to the next project. As necessary you can also enter time manually on the timesheet.
Add notes to each time entry. Keep in mind that your notes might be shared with others including clients. Try to make them as detailed as possible, and include notes. If you are working on a project all day try to include notes throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to stop every 2 hours and write a note about what you have accomplished, or any roadblocks you encountered.
An example of a good note: “Designed the layout for the Predictive Analytics landing page, and sent it to James Rolfsen at the clients for review.” Don’t just write: “Design work”.
Amending a Timesheet.
You can make changes to the current weeks timesheet until [a project is completed, Saturday at Midnight, Monday at Midnight, or Next Saturday at Midnight]. After this time timesheets will be locked. Locking timesheets prevents unexpected changes to past timesheets. Contact your manager if you need to change amend a previous timesheet.
Altering, falsifying, tampering with timesheets or recording time on another employee’s time record may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
Your manager will regularly review your timesheet. If your timesheet is not up to date your manager will work with you to determine a plan to get you back on track. Also, you and your manager will review this time tracking policy as needed.
If you have questions about our time tracking policy please contact your manager. If you have questions about using Bric please visit https://getbric.com/support/, or chat with support within the Bric application.
First Last Name, CEO/Founder/President
Agreed to and accepted on MM/DD/YY
9/80 Work Schedule: Benefits, Challenges, and Getting Started
What is the 9/80 work schedule all about?
You may have heard of the 9/80 work schedule. Perhaps a neighbor’s company offers it as an option for their employees. You probably know that it involves Fridays off, and you know that sounds cool. But do you really know how it works?
It’s like this:
The 9/80 work schedule works on a two-week period.
The first week, employees work 9 hours a day Monday – Thursday.
On Friday, they work 8 hours.
The second week, employees work 9 hours a day Monday – Thursday.
On Friday, they don’t work. They earn that day off.
Thus, over a period of 9 days, employees work what is typically worked in 10 days: 80 hours.
It sounds fairly straightforward and logical: if you work longer hours, you add up enough time to take a day off. It can get a little tricky, however, since by protocol of the US Department of Labor, employees can’t work more than 40 hours a week unless you want to pay them overtime. Since, with the 9/80 work schedule, employees work 44 hours the first week and 36 the second, this is problematic.
The solution: end the work week midway through the day the first Friday. The first four hours of the day belong to the first week. The second four hours of the day belong to the second. 40hrs + 40hrs = no problem for the government.
As we explore this topic more, we examine the gains and potential losses of the 9/80 work schedule. For now, we’ll keep an objective tone and give you the facts about how the 9/80 workweek got started and what it means for employees.
Brief history of the 9/80 work schedule (facts gathered from Business Insider)
In the late 1800s, the US started collecting data on how many hours factory workers were putting in on a weekly basis. Their findings were a little shocking: most workers were racking up 100 hours a week.
A conversation around “how many hours a week is fair” began, but it wasn’t until 1940 that the government put the 8hr day/40hr week into law with an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. As of 2015, if you earn more than $23,660, you qualify for overtime pay.
This discussion of hours worked a week and fairness is heating up again. The nature of work is changing. In 1940, there was less technology, less streamlined productivity, different household dynamics, and a lot fewer women in the workplace.
Today, working from home is an option for a solid portion of the population, at least for part of the day. For families with both parents working, daycares are now a hefty monthly payment. The 9/80 work schedule appeared in the late 1990s as a way to present employees with a little more flexibility in their personal life.
What it means to work more than 8 hours a day
To most people, a day off is a blessing. That part of the 9/80 work schedule they can get behind. As for working 9 hours a day, 4 days a week, they may not be so sure. According to the US Department of Labor:
“The FLSA does not set a minimum or a maximum number of hours in a day or in a week that an adult employee may be required or may choose to work, nor does it regulate work schedules or employers’ utilization of their work force, so long as overtime is paid or compensatory time off is given if an employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek.”
Thus, there is no rule saying employers have to pay overtime to those who work over 8 hours a day. Work as many hours as you want in a day, just not more than 40 per week. Although this may change on a state-to-state level, it generally stands as rule.
But there’s actually not much scientific thought behind the 8 hour day. They didn’t run elaborate tests to see how many hours humans can work an maximum capacity. It was during the Industrial Revolution that people noticed their productivity increased at 8 hours instead of 15. That’s a lot larger gap than between 9 and 8.
But how many hours a day can humans actually work . . . and remain happy? The debate centers around focus. If the work environment already does not promote productivity and focus, more hours is not going to accomplish more goals. If employees focus and take restful breaks, one extra hour is feasible. It may even be beneficial.
Benefits of a 9/80 work schedule
The most obvious benefit of the 9/80 work week: employees get 2 guaranteed days off in a month. There are other benefits, however, and some of them benefit the company, not just the employees.
Company benefits of a 9/80 work week
Employees may end up asking for less days off. By guaranteeing full days off every two weeks for employees, companies may see a decline in “sick” days and half days off for personal appointments. Thus, even though employees are gone every other Friday, the amount of days missed in a month decreases.
Tasks are more likely to be completed in one day. An extra hour of work 4 days a week means that employees are more likely to complete tasks the day they start them. Instead of having to leave and go home in the middle of a project, they have extra time to wrap things up. The next day, they start fresh, increasing the quality of their daily work.
Staff are generally more refreshed. Working 9 hours a day more be more exhausting than 8 hours, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel for the employees: the upcoming 3 day weekend. With more time for rest, relaxation, and taking care of personal needs, employees enter the office ready to go on Monday morning. They know the effort of their extra long days always ends in reward.
People are more excited to work for a company with a 9/80 work schedule. That’s right. The workforce, especially young people, are looking for ways companies stand out in respect to how they treat their employees (think Google, Epic). You don’t have to make your company into a playground, but offering a 9/80 work schedule certainly sets you above your competitors. Remember when we said the way we work is changing? Job seekers are looking to see if your company acknowledges this fact.
Employee benefits of a 9/80 work schedule
Less commuting = better for the environment and the driver. Not working every other Friday means not driving to work every other Friday. Less gas, less miles on your car, and less impact on the environment. Happy people, happy planet.
Employees can make personal appointments during business hours. When you work a 9-5 business day it can be difficult to make appointments at places that are only open from 9-5 during the business week. Even simple tasks like haircuts and dry cleaning become impossible. You can get a whole lot done on a whole day off, which means you can actually relax on Saturday and Sunday, instead of catching up on errands.
Employees experience less personal interruptions with their work. There’s always at least one person who brings his personal life to the office. Maybe an argument that didn’t get resolved at home, or maybe a lack of sleep because of a child’s birthday party over the weekend. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually have time to resolve that argument? Or to take down the streamers on the ceiling? An extra day off is opportunity to resolve these things.
Employees may feel more like themselves. Work and personal business isn’t what life is all about. People need to do the things they love in order to focus on the other parts of their lives. Running, reading books, rubbing the dog’s belly — these things make us humans happy.
Examining the benefits of the 9/80 work schedule boils down to this question: does the 9/80 work week make an employee more productive and more happy? Happiness and productivity relate to a proper work/life balance. There is no right way to live, no universal answer on how to spend our days. There are, however, a lot of articles written on how to maintain a better work/life balance (like this one in Forbes). And all of them seem to to agree that taking time for yourself that is not related to work or personal chores makes you more focused and happier at work.
A few extra days off a month contributes to a better work/life balance by offering extra time for these personal needs. Therefore, the 9/80 work schedule allows for higher productivity and more happiness for the employee. Abuses, however, can happen with any type of work schedule, as we examine in the next section.
The pitfalls of a 9/80 work schedule, and how to avoid them
Sometimes having a day off gives you more pain than pleasure. It’s like the little kid who faked a cold to stay home from school and chill but his mom cut the cord to the TV and made him read Moby Dick. Even planned perfection can spoil
So here is a list of things that can go wrong, and have gone wrong, with a 9/80 work schedule. And after, we offer some pointers on how to avoid these pitfalls. The biggest fight: avoiding overtime.
The government. Maybe tomorrow, after reading this article, you decide you want to implement the 9/80 work schedule at your company. Not so fast. Turns out, a major problem with the 9/80 work schedule is that companies forget to let the government know that they’re changing the way they file their hours and paychecks. This means, with payroll ending on Saturday or Sunday as per usual, employees ending up clocking 36 hours one week, and 44 the next. That means, according to the government, you owe your employees 4 hours of overtime pay.
The solution: make the switch to a 9/80 work schedule strategic. Follow the US Department of Labor’s rules. Study up on case studies from other businesses who implemented alternative work weeks, and ask yourself if their pitfalls are translatable to your business.
Federal holidays. When a federal holiday lands on a Friday that your employees already have off, this becomes an issue. It means you owe your employees a full day off, that you have to squeeze in sometime during the regular workweek. You already miss one day of production every 2 weeks, now you will miss another.
If your company can’t afford to lose another day of production, give your employees an option. They can choose an additional day to have off, or you will pay them overtime for the extra day they worked. The cost of overtime may be less than two days off in one pay period for a large portion of your employees. If neither of these options appeal to you, there are other, less money-centered, way to appease your people. Gifts, casuals days, dinner, etc.
Employees get pushy. If you give them an inch . . .
Employees may want to switch the days they have off. You may hear, “Can I take off this Friday instead of next?” or “What if Thursdays are my days off instead of Fridays?” These exceptions don’t fit with the work week ending at noon on Fridays, which can get you in trouble with the government (see above). Or yourself, because you might end up owing overtime.
As you research the proper ways to implement a 9/80 work schedule, have team meetings to establish rules. The alternative work week is already an exception to the norm, other frequent exceptions are not allowed. Make it clear that this is not an open door to work less, but a way to establish more balance in their personal lives. Need an overview of tools on how to talk to your employees so they actually listen? Check out this article.
Setting up a 9/80 work schedule with Bric
One way you can be preemptive with your upcoming 9/80 work schedule is setting up a compressed work week in Bric.
Bric is different than other time tracking softwares. While most time tracking softwares offer a simple time tracking calculator (like the one we give away for free), Bric actually offers tools for capacity planning. It’s also employee-centered, which means the end-goals of time tracking with Bric aren’t just payroll and invoicing. The goal is to make time tracking not only easier, but desirable for employees.
Bric’s dashboard shows all your company’s employees, telling you how much time they have available that week and how far along they are on their projects. That’s what we mean by capacity planning. If your creative agency gets another project, you can see at a glance who is available to take it on.
This feature makes switching to an alternative work week, like the 9/80 work schedule, a fairly simple change. As the administrator of Bric for your company, you can set days off for individual users. If ⅓ of your employees switch to the 9/80 work week, you can assign those employees to have every other Friday off.
All of those changes are reflected in the dashboard. If you have a project with a deadline fast approaching, you’ll know who is working this Friday and who isn’t, who works 9 hour days and who doesn’t.
In that way, using Bric to manage a 9/80 work schedule works better than other scheduling options. Let’s quickly go through that list of pitfalls again, this time noting how Bric specifically helps alleviate those issues.
- The government. As we said earlier, some companies forget to legitimize their new work week with the US Department of Labor. The same person who admins Bric is likely the person who task it is to change payroll. Bric can serve as a reminder that the system needs changing, that you can’t just start working different hours.
- Federal holidays. What should you do if your employee’s scheduled day off lands on a federal holiday? Adjust their hours. Instead of worrying about giving them an extra day off, adjust their hours for that week so they only work 8 hour days for 4 days. In Bric, you can change their hours in advance to plan projects around this change.
- Employees get pushy. Not anymore. When their schedule changes in Bric, it’s set in stone and there is no getting around it. The whole team can see when people are supposed to be work (or not work) and can hold each other accountable.
Convinced and ready to make the change? Try a free trial of Bric and see if we can alleviate some of your fear of transitioning to the 9/80 work schedule.
Time Clock: Online Calculator and Software Reviews
The time clock looms above the working man. He toils away as the clock ticks, measuring every second to ensure he works at full capacity. It’s just a picture of every person in the world at his job, be it in a factory or an office.
A time clock rules the working person’s day. Work, depending on your job, is defined by shifts, punch cards, project plans, invoices, billing, etc. Each one of these depends on time. If you get too consumed in thinking about it, you can start to feel like you are in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
We’ve all gotten so deep in planning our day that it feels like we’re ruled by numbers. You plan to work on this project for this amount of hours, that project for that amount of time, and so on into eternity. Project planning and understanding and strategic scheduling is important, but if you get too caught up in time tracking, you’ll have nothing left to give to your creative projects.
Consider the folks at Bric as the time tracking department of your business. We do all the thinking about time tracking and time clocks for you, so you can just use our resources and go on with your day. If you’re ever curious about what we’re up to, you can read our blog and rest assured that all those time clock stresses in the back of your mind are taken care of by us.
Today we review time clock calculators and time clock softwares that flood your Google searches when you’re looking for a new way to track time. Before we get to those reviews, we at Bric want to know: how did this whole time clock thing get started?
The history of time tracking
This is some food for thought. To understand time tracking, why we invented time clocks, and why it’s important not to get caught up in a time-centered frenzy, we thought it would be neat to study how humans began to measure time (information adapted from Wikipedia).
You don’t need a watch, a Fitbit, or a time clock to measure time. All you need is to look at the sun (indirectly, of course). And that’s exactly what people did for centuries. Egyptians in particular spent a lot of time looking at the sun, so much time that they decided to assign value to its movements. Not with numbers, but with shadows. The sundial was born.
Eventually, they inscribed numbers around the sundial (the number 12 indicates the 12 lunar cycles of each year), and from there dreamt up machinations of future time clocks. The Egyptians invented a device called a water clock, that could measure time with regulated drips of water, even at night. A whistle was later attached to a similar device, creating the first alarm clock.
As time progressed, explorers and churches used hour glasses and melting candles to measure time. Ship horns and church bells alerted the lay people of the progression of the day. The hunt for precision in time tracking continues today. The smallest duration of time is Planck time, which is 10^-44 second. Can your Fitbit measure that?
What is this hunt to measure time in different ways all about? Why can’t we all step outside and look at the sun and perform some simple subtraction to figure out the time? Why are time clocks so complicated?
The answer lies in our culture of work. Back when water clocks were just an idea in some Egyptian’s head, wealth meant the ability to lay around all day. If you had money, that meant you didn’t have to work. Today, it’s the opposite. Our culture as a whole respect those who are busy. The people who don’t have time to relax are those with high paying, emotionally-demanding jobs. This is sweeping statement this isn’t always true, but the point is this: we Americans don’t have time to think about time. So we have to find ways to measure time that don’t take as much time.
Let’s unpack that a little. In the United States, we value those who optimize their time so they’re working as hard as they can as much as they can. We invented cars so the commute to work is shorter. We invented fast food so we don’t have to waste time preparing food. Computer, printers, and all of these inventions make our tasks more streamlined. All we have to do it is work now. But we still hit the roadblock of inventing the perfect time clock. A time clock that measures itself for us, so we don’t have to constantly fret about how is time is spent.
See how thinking about time gets confusing, defeating, and tricky? Take a breathe, we’re here to help you navigate.
Too many time clock options
Sand, springs, gravity, electricity — humans continue to experiment with ways to capture time. But now there is the Internet. You can find time clock softwares that simply countdown time. Some automatically log hours in spreadsheets. There are a thousand different project management tools that claim to make your time more efficient.
But which one will make you, and your entire office, happy? Which is the least confusing, most efficient, and most effective at taking the worry out of time tracking?
Bric wants to help you navigate this, so we’ve compiled some quick lists of time clock calculators and softwares that may better help your business navigate the time tracking realm.
Free time clock calculators
First, we explore free options for time clocks calculators available on the internet. Time clock calculators don’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but for some, they get the job done.
- Google has an online stopwatch that works as time clock if you’re looking for the bare minimum. Start the clock when work begins, stop the clock when it’s over. You’re going to need a second tool to actually record your time, and most likely you’ll have to do the addition yourself. But if you’re working for yourself or only have one or two other employees, this might work for a little while. Better than counting hours on your computer’s clock, but there are better tools out there.
- Timecardcalculator.net is a time punch card. Instead of having to run a time clock while you work, this allows you to enter time in and time out. It gives you two periods a day, which works pretty well if you only take one break a day. This calculator lets you enter in your hourly pay, and adds up your daily totals. It also adds up your pay, doubling as a pay stub. Unfortunately, this page is not very visually pleasing. Nor is it adaptable to any other format. You can print the page . . . but who uses paper anymore? This tool may work a few times, but you’ll likely desire improvement shortly after beginning to use it.
- Bric’s free online time clock is honestly just way better. It’s aesthetically pleasing, looks like a tool made in this decade, and functions well in a modern office. You can enter your times in and out and deduct total break times. It adds daily subtotals and weekly grand totals, separating each period by day. Most importantly: you can save it as a CSV or PDF. Your boss will appreciate it’s easy mobility. You can also print it, if you’re into that.
These options are sort of the sundials of time clock options. If you’re looking for a water clock, you may have to pay for it. But don’t break your bank, there are more sensible options.
Paid Time clock software
It should be no surprise for you to learn that Bric is a time tracking and project management software, complete with a time clock and employee dashboard. Still, we want you to know your options. We found three other similar time tracking softwares and reviewed their pros and cons. At Bric, we believe in educated choice.
First up, Tracking Time.
Pros: Tracking Time has a few different versions of itself, all of which are relatively inexpensive. It lays out individual projects in calendar format, synchronizing with other calendars on your device. You click on a project, and enter the times you worked on it. It allows you to sort work by clients, and allows for team time tracking. It also has analytic functions to see data from your time tracking.
Cons: Tracking Time doesn’t actually have a time clock. Meaning, you can’t start a clock with the app while you work. You have to keep track of time somewhere else. It also lacks a function that lays out information on each employee, what they are working on, and if they have availability that week for more projects. In that way, it lacks essential capacity planning functions.
Up next, Timely.
Pros: Timely separates time tracking by employee, and lays out employee’s tasks on a dashboard. Like Tracking Time, projects are laid out on a calendar that syncs to other devices. You assign different “tags”, or labels, to different tasks, so you won’t forget what exactly you worked on when you look back at your hours. Oh, and it does have a time clock.
Cons: Timely does have a free version that works for freelancers, but otherwise it is a bit pricey. It’s also a bit confusing for some users. There’s a lot possible on Timely, but there’s also a lot to learn. Implementing timely in your office may take a good number of team meetings and weeks to get accustomed.
Pros: Unlike the two previous time clock softwares, Paydirt is not calendar-based, but client-centered. To start tracking time, users click on the name of the client whose project they’re working on. If you forget to start time tracking, it allows you to backtrack and plug in the minutes you lost. It has easy features that allow you to create invoices on the go.
Cons: Paydirt is the priciest of the three softwares. And, although pleasantly straightforward, it lacks data analysis capacities and fails to provide an employee dashboard. It is a very nice, albeit very expensive, time clock but lacks project planning and capacity planning tools.
Deciding which time clock software is right for your office can be a hair-pulling experience. We hope our comments have pushed you a little closer to a perfect fit.
At Bric, we don’t want you to have to think about time.
When we designed Bric, this phrase was in the back of our minds. The modern workplace is streamlined to be more productive. Countless inventions have turned into successful tools for increasing productivity. We believe the next metaphorical mountain to summit is time tracking.
With Bric, we have timesheets that adapt to different tasks and hourly rates. We have time clocks that start and end with individual projects. We have an employee dashboard that lets managers see who’s on track with their work, who’s gone over budget, and who has time for an extra project this week.
Think it’s too good to be true? Give us a free trial. Let us know how we stack up.
5 Timesheet Calculator Fails And How To Do It Differently
Bric recently unveiled a free timesheet calculator. It’s open to the public and free, simply check out our website and you can build timesheets right away.Get Bric’s Free Time Calculator
Why is Bric, a project management software, giving away a timesheet calculator for free?
Of course we’d love for your ad agency to try a free trial of our software, but that’s not really our end goal. We know a lot of creative agency folk, and we really like them. We want to make their lives easier, not see them fumble through time tracking nightmares.
And let’s face it, time tracking is a nightmare. It’s sort of paradoxical, but most employees hate it. Paradoxical because it’s how they get paid, yet they still resent it. Bric wants to take the hate out of time tracking. We are giving time tracking a new purpose so creatives can get back to the work they love.
All creatives know that horrible moment when it’s time to count how many hours it took to finish a project. It usually comes at the most inconvenient time, around midnight or so, when you’ve just completed 6 hours overtime pouring your heart into your most recent work. “How many hours did it take me?” becomes more than an innocent question. It becomes your mortal enemy, the final dragon to slay before you get to the top of the castle to claim your reward for completing the project.
Which is why our timesheet calculator is simple; it gives a time in/time out slot for every day of the week, and does all the addition for subtotals and grand totals for you. Users can e-mail a CSV or PDF to the boss man at the end of the week with their total hours. No more time tracking monsters to slay.
Everyone loves a good story. We at Bric particularly love ones about time tracking. What follows are 5 timesheet calculator fails that your creative agency may have suffered through. With our free timesheet calculator, you will hopefully never suffer these fates again.
5 Timesheet Calculator Fails
- Excel spreadsheets the easy way. So you need to start tracking time. Instead of searching for an online timesheet calculator, you set up a simple Excel spreadsheet. We’ve all done this at least once in our life. Employees log in, put in their hours under the right days, do some math at the end, that’s it. Except it never actually works that smoothly. One of the columns gets off and someone’s hours for Monday wind up on Saturday. Total chaos reigns, paychecks are late, invoices go unwritten. On top of that, the dull visuals of an Excel spreadsheet burn a creative’s eyes, making them resent time tracking even more.
- Excel spreadsheets the harder way. A lot of us have experimented with this as well. And we know how it ends: you yelling at your computer and finding yourself repeating your high school science teacher saying “technology’s great . . . until you have to use it.” Excel has a lot of amazing and helpful codes to create a time card, but unless you’re already proficient in Excel, jumping into time card coding is just plain difficult. This fail lies not so much in the end result as the set-up. If your employees need to get started time tracking tomorrow, you’re going to be up all night creating an Excel time card. Hire an expert, or use Bric’s free (and prettier) timesheet calculator.
- Leaving it up to your employees. Never a good idea. Still, some people ask their employees to e-mail them all their hours at the end of the week. This, obviously, leaves room for a lot of inaccuracy. Accuracy is important in time tracking not just for budget reasons, but also for project planning and employee optimization. You can’t accurately plan for future projects if you don’t know how long the old ones took your teams. On top of that, you can’t know how much time your employees have a in a week for new projects if they over- or under-estimate their time worked.
- The unending time tracking software hunt. A simple google search of “time tracking templates” opens the door to hundred of time tracking softwares and apps. You don’t know which one to choose, so you google “best time tracking templates.” This digs you deeper in the hole. Blogs upon blogs of advice on which software to use, but who to trust? Which blog is the least biased? Which software shows up in the most articles? What features do you really need in a timesheet calculator? Before you know it, you’ve spent hours researching the subject and you’re no more, if not less certain about than you were when you started the hunt.
- Paying too much for time calculator software. At the end of the day, time tracking boils down to a clock. It shouldn’t be that difficult to capture data from the most widely used invention of all time, but it is. Prices range for $5/month to $250/month for time tracking softwares, and you can easily get suckered into believe you need the most expensive kind. Because time tracking is a pretty basic need in every business, it should never be very expensive. Especially if you’re just looking for a place to plug in hours. Hence our creation of a free timesheet calculator.
Shift the purpose
Putting a “spin” on regular, everyday tasks and chores has been a marketing tool since knights were slaying dragons. Some “spins” actually improve your life. Some don’t.
Successful spins include canned food, the portable telephone, and toaster ovens.
Marketing spins that didn’t improve your life include: erasable pens, green ketchup, and fidget spinners.
We at Bric think that our time tracking software is a successful spin on our classic timesheet calculator. We think that there is another purpose to time tracking besides logging hours, and we think it actually improves your life. Or at the least increases functionality and profit in your creative agency.
With each hour your employee logs there lies a wealth of data. Most agency owners don’t realize this, but that data is key to improving those key phrases we mentioned earlier: project planning and employee optimization. When you know how many hours projects of a certain scope take, you can better plan for future projects. And when you can see how many hours each employees has available each week, you avoid burnout and underworking your staff.
Our time tracking software doesn’t overcharge you for a fancy clock. To prove that, we have a free timesheet calculator on our website. When you pay for Bric, you get a time tracking tool that is designed not with our profit in mind, but with your happiness. We know time tracking is a pain. But we also know it is incredibly useful to your business, so our software makes it as easy as possible for employees to track time.
Our theories, built outward
When we designed our time tracking software, we built our theories outward.
Theory 1: Time tracking must be mindless for the user. Sounds a little strange, but essentially we don’t want your employees to worry about time tracking. That’s why we made it easy with our software. Users click on the project they’re working on, and the time starts.
Theory 2: Data must be acquired for time sheets. On our dashboard, you can see all the employees, what they’re working on, and how many hours they have available that week. You can look at project scopes to determine capacity planning for future work. There’s nothing on our software that you don’t need. No fluff.
Theory 3: Time tracking software must look good. Duh. Employees actually want to login and use our software. It’s not a bunch of jumbled numbers and columns. It was designed with the creative brain in mind. Neat and orderly, but not too stiff.
No. More. Fails.
Whether you stick with our free timesheet calculator or give our advanced time tracking software a try, we promise you one thing: no more time tracking fails. We’ve put the time and effort into designing a better time sheet so you don’t have to. Get back to work and don’t worry about the clock. With Bric, it takes care of itself.
How to Build a Time Card in Excel & Time Card Template
Excellent management skills begin with talking to yourself. It’s not crazy: it’s an exercise in time tracking excellence. Which brings us to the big question of the day:
Why do you need a time card for your employees?
You may be thinking: “What a ridiculous question. We need time cards to track time, duh!” But this is a very important question to ask before you create a time card or decide on a time tracking software.
Here’s how we break it down.
What are your time tracking needs?
Do you need . . .
- A simple time card? Maybe you just started a business and simply need to start tracking time. A simple time card in Excel is quick and easy, as we explore in this article. Simple time cards work in the long term for people who are only tracking time for themselves, people whose employees all make the same wage, or people with very few employees. Simplicity can be beautiful. We’ll teach you how to make an Excel time card in a few minutes. Tried of Excel use our Free Time Calculator — it is a great way to create a simple timesheet.
- A tool for project management? Perhaps you have several different teams of employees working on several projects at the same time. Having them enter their hours on an Excel time card isn’t going to help you with project planning. You need more dynamic tools to separate different projects in a user friendly way. We’ll give you suggestions that can help you explore different options at the end of this article.
- A way to visual data collected by time cards? An Excel spreadsheet is hardly a clever visualization of time card data. Not all time tracking softwares have this function, either. Many creative agencies want to be able to visualize their data to show to project management teams. You can extract data from Excel and enter into something like Tableau, but Excel won’t do the visualization for you.
Today we start with the first things first: how to build a time card in Excel. For some, this will be all they need to manage their employee time cards. For others, it will be a good review on the importance of time cards. We’ll also throw in some suggestions for those who need a little more umph with their time cards.
Excel Time Card Template
Sure our time card tutorial is awesome, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Download our Time Card Excel Template to get back to the work you love. Our time card template allows you to compare your hours planned vs hours worked — just like Bric.
How to build a time card in Excel
Here is our 4-step quick and dirty process for building a time card in Excel. Use it, change it, share it, whatever you need.
Step One: Gather information. Time cards are obviously for employees. What do you need to know about your employees? Name, ID #, social security number, department, and job title perhaps?
Next, talk to payroll. What is the pay period? Weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc? You’ll need to know what dates to include before you organize information in Excel.
Step Two: Organize information. Put the employee information at the top of the time card. Set up columns vertically for each day of the pay period. Enter column horizontally for the hours worked that day. They can be broken up into morning and afternoon if you want to visually exclude lunch breaks, but that means the employees will have to log in to track time at least twice a day.
Step Three: Automate addition. If you chose to break up the day into morning/afternoon, then you’ll need to automate the subtotal for the hours worked that day. The formula for addition in Excel is =SUM(A4+B4). In this case, A4 and B4 are stand-ins for the names of the morning and afternoon cells on the time card. This will obviously vary.
You also need to automate the grand total. This is the total hours worked during the pay period of the time card. Use the same SUM formula, like this =SUM(C4:C11). The colon in the equation means through. Thus, the formula adds all of the subtotals for each day to create the grand total of the pay period.
Fun Excel fact: when you paste the SUM formula into other rows, it automatically changes the formula to have the new cell names so you don’t have to manually change it.
Step Four: Lock your new time card. To prevent tampering from owly employees, you need to lock certain cells in your Excel time card, and you need to lock the entire time card too.
To lock certain cells, such as the subtotal and grand total cells, you actually need to unlock the others. Confused? Excel automatically locks all the cells. To unlock the cells where the employee enters her hours, go under the “Protection” tab, hit “format cells,” and uncheck the “locked” box.
To create a password for the time card, go to “Format,” then “protect sheet” then hit the “select unlocked cells” button. It will then prompt you create a password, and then VOILA: your very first employee time card. Quite the milestone.
Do more with your newly created Excel time card
The truth is that Excel time cards can be a little fancier, but it’s a bit of a headache. It’s possible to automate the dates so you don’t have to re-enter them manually every time period. You can use formulas to calculate overtime, designate “in” and “out” columns, account for sick and vacation time, and more
Pros of Excel time cards
Proficiency in Excel is a merit claimed by most professional Americans. Thus, your employees may appreciate the simplicity of an Excel time card. The difficulty falls on the person programming the time card. It takes a lot of patience to set up fool-proof formulas that can stand a lot of users at once. Once it’s set up, however, it’s straight forward in execution.
Cons of Excel time cards
Remember when we told you that time tracking needs a new purpose? What we meant was that time cards shouldn’t be just about punching numbers for payroll. Time cards are useful tools for data collection, too. Excel time cards make it difficult for employees to see the data-side of time tracking.
Here is a list of why you may want to consider a time tracking software instead of a time card in Excel.
- Employees have to manually enter their time, which is a universal pain.
- The data collected by time cards isn’t automatically sent to payroll or the project management teams.
- There is no way to visualize employee utilization.
- Employees cannot be easily divided up into teams.
- There is a risk of working over or under time without supervision.
- Employees have no way to communicate with each other on projects.
Time tracking software exists that is a collaborative and data-centered, project-oriented and filled with visualization. With Excel time cards, you’re stuck punching numbers. You can’t unlock the real benefits of best time tracking practices for your creative agency.
For those of us who aren’t computer programmers …
There is Bric. Bric does time cards for you, and presents time tracking information on a visually pleasing dashboard for the gaze of all employees. To track time, employees simply click the project they are working on, and the time begins. When they’re about to go overtime, they receive a warning. They can also check on the time progress of other employees and projects, all in one simple software. When projects are finished, Bric presents data about project times, budget, and employee optimization to the users. There’s no digging for information, it’s all right there.
Say goodbye to late night headaches programming time cards in Excel. Click here for a free 30-day trial of Bric.